Louie Jon A. Sanchez

Contributor Biography

Louie Jon A. Sánchez is an assistant professor of English at the School of Humanities, Ateneo de Manila University. He is the author of three collections of poetry in Filipino—At Sa Tahanan ng Alabok (Where the Dust Dwells, 2010). Kung Saan sa Katawan (Whence in the Body, 2013), and Siwang sa Pinto ng Tabernakulo (The Tabernacle Door Agape, 2020). He is also a translator from both English and Filipino. He has been a habitué of Singapore for the past few years, doting on the children of his youngest brother who lives there.

PADRE PIO

In rumination of the wounds of Christ,

A blinding light descended on you.

It momentarily quashed your consciousness.

You found yourself in darkness

And considered it the Holy of Holies.

Upon awaking, stigmata bled in your palms,

Your foot, your side.

You would carry the wounds for life,

Uttered the voice of the Bestower.

He also revealed the narrative

Of your Sacred Oblation:

Fasting, suffering, healing.

All these were unveiled to you

In your brief brush with death—

Which coheres to pieces of customary plots

In all manner of resurrection.

You were stunned,

No words came out

Of your parched lips.

Then it dawned on you that this is stillness

That transpires in faith that relies

On the cloud of unknowing.

Now, while you mindfully 

Touch your wounds,

Fierce pain throbs, 

As if emanating from the Source—

You have granted me disquiet,

Though I sought serenity.

TERESA DE AVILA

An image of supreme surrender—

As the Angel descends and greets you,

He thrusts the sacred arrow onto your chest—

Must be one of those that took

The life of the martyr tied to the tree,

Must also be a stray reed 

From the time of the Old Crusades.

It strikes you immediately

Though its golden tip is yet to pierce

Skin, flesh, bosom.

The sculpture captures it—

Your face radiates 

And in the circle of your lips,

The seemingly inscrutable expression

That brims with joy and runs over with praise— 

Spirit that even in writing

Is an absconder, hard to seize and pin down.

In light's complete descent on you,

In its engulfing of your senses,

You revealed in your writing

That the arrow thrusts your being,

Your soul, again and again. 

In each pull, agony trounces

And purges all things held within. 

Untormented, you bear no other desire

But to be consumed by God's light,

To embrace him in whatever splendor.

Nada te turbe, nada te espante todo se pasa. 

Pain is sweet and tender, that which you beseech,

No matter the ferocity it brings and yields.

ASSUMPTION

The Virgin has no body in her nakedness.

Under the embroidered velvet cape, uncovered

Is the fleshless frame of wood that shapes her,

Bearing towards the head an alluring ivory face.

 

No bones. No skin. Everything seems to have descended.

LAZARUS

—At the Baclayon Church, Bohol

His eyes announce disbelief in his resurrection

From the dark of the cave. An astounding image—

It is strange to enshrine rotting flesh that rose up,

A loosening shroud, a petrifying stance.

 

How did he get to such a majestic pantheon?

A cherub takes a peek, appears heaving a sigh,

And the Virgin raises an eyebrow amidst supplications,

Sparkling is her robe. Bewildered by absurdity.

 

It is as if the other noiseless statues looked at each 

Other while attending to the faithful. Someone is astray.

HOLY MASS

This afternoon's Gospel

Is Christ's walking on water

And Peter's sinking,

And all of a sudden, something 

Brews in my chest,

Wanting to hit and crash,

Hankering to slosh and overflow

In drowning each that stands on its way.

 

Waves turn into a tempestuous wall

With the ache to demolish everything,

When unexpectedly, it feels the guiltless

Touch of the imposing sole,

And carefully receives the strides

Of feet it recognizes.

 

It seems the one who crosses

My bosom is unknowing

Of the immense whirlpools

I intend to hurtle. 

 

It is I 

Who indeed knows nothing. 

As the proclamation traverses to thanks be

To God, it's as if my hand was miraculously     

Extended to my own submergence.

I emerged—not in redemption.

 

Facing me, the faithful take

Their seats all at the same time, like 

Waves revering in a habit of holy shores.

Author's Note:

These poems were self-translated.

PADRE PIO

Sa pagmumuni mo sa mga sugat ni Kristo, 

Bumaba ang nakabubulag na liwanag. 

Sandaling pinaslang ang iyong malay. 

Namalas mo ang sarili sa dilim 

At itinuring iyon na Dakong Banal. 

Pagkagising, nagdurugo ang iyong mga palad, 

Mga talampakan, tagiliran. 

Dadalhin mo ang mga sugat habambuhay, 

Ayon sa tinig ng Tagapaggawad. 

Ibinuod din Niya ang magiging talambuhay 

Ng iyong Sagradong Alay: 

Pag-aayuno, pagpapakasakit, pagpapagaling.     

Nalantad sa iyo itong lahat 

Sa saglit na pagkamatay— 

Ang kaputol ng nakamulatang salaysay 

Ng ano mang muling pagkabuhay. 

Hindi ka na nakaimik. 

Walang nakapuslit na mga salita 

Mula sa nanunuyong mga labi. 

Saka sumigid sa sentidong pagpapatahimik ito 

Ng pananampalatayang nagpapaubaya 

Sa kawalang-katiyakan. 

Ngayon, habang hinahaplos mo 

Nang buong ingat itong mga sugat, 

Pumipitlag ang matindang kirot 

Na tila pang-uusig sa Pinamuhatan—

Pinagkalooban mo ako bagabag, 

Gayong kapayapaan ang aking asam.

TERESA DE AVILA

Imahen ng lubos na pagpapaubaya—

Sa pagbaba ng Anghel at pagbati sa iyo,

Akmang itatarok niya ang banal na palaso—

Maaaring isa sa mga tunod

Na pumaslang sa martir na nakagapos sa puno

At maaari rin namang isang ligaw na talim

Mula sa mga panahon ng Matandang Krusada.

Agad na may talab ito sa iyo

Bagaman pipilasin pa lamang ng gintong talas 

Ang balat, laman, kaibuturan.

Huling-huli ito ng eskultura—

Payapang-payapa ang iyong mukha

At sa pabilog na hugis ng iyong mga labi,

Ang tila hindi masakop na mga pahayag

Ng siksik na ligaya at liglig na papuri—

Mga damdaming kahit sa panulat

Ay ilahas, mahirap masilat at magapi.

Sa lubos na pagbaba sa iyo ng liwanag,

Sa pagpaslang sa iyong malay,

Sinasabi mo sa iyong mga tala,

Muli at muling pinupunyal ng palaso

Ang iyong katawan, ang iyong kaluluwa.

Sa bawat paghugot, gumagapang ang sakit

At tila inilalabas ang lahat-lahat ng niloloob.

Walang pangamba, wala kang nasang iba 

Kundi ang malagot ng liwanag ng Diyos,

Ang mayakap Siya sa anumang kalawakan.

Nada te turbe, nada te espante todo se pasa. 

Sakdal-banayad ang kirot, siyang malaong asam,

Ano mang dulot at dalang karahasan.

ASUNCION

Walang katawan ang Birhen sa kaniyang pagkahubad.

Sa ilalim ng bordadong barong pelus, nailantad

Ang walang-lamáng balangkas ng kahoy na humuhubog, 

Sapong-sapo sa uluhan ang garing na mukhang irog.

 

Walang buto. Walang balat. Pumanaog yatang lahat.

LAZARO

—Simbahan ng Baclayon, Bohol

Pagkagitla ang salaysay ng mata niya pagbangon

Mulang dilim ng hantungan. Imáheng nakamamangha— 

Bibihirang ipedestal, lamáng bulok na umahon,

Káyong linong lumuluwag, tindig na may sindak-badha.

 

Paanong narating niya ang dambanang ubod-ringal? 

Nakasilip ang kerubin, wari’y nagbuntong-hininga, 

At ang poo’y taas-kilay sa sanlaksang dasal-linggal, 

Makinang ang baro’t saya. Bigla yatang napanganga.

Mistulang nagkatinginan ang iba pang santong tikom, 

Nakabaling sa balana. Sapagkat may naliligaw.

SANTA MISA

Ebanghelyo ngayong hápon

Ang paglakad ni Kristo sa tubig 

At paglubog ni Pedro,

Ay parang may kung anong 

Dumadaluyong sa dibib,

Ibig humampas, gumiba,

Násang manalasa’t rumagasa

Sa paglunod sa bawat nakatindig.

 

Nagsasamuog ang mga alon,

May pakanâng lupigin ang lahat, 

Nang biglang madamá ang dalisay 

Na dantay ng baták na talampakan, 

Kusang sinasalo ang hakbang

Ng nakakikilalang rabaw.

 

Waring walang kaalam-alam

Ang naglalandas sa dibdib

Kung gaanong laksang uli-uli 

Ang balak kong pag-alimpuyuhin.

 

Ako paláng maydibdib

Ang talagang walang kaalam-alam. 

Sa pagtawid ng bigkas sa salamat 

Sa Diyos, wari’y himalang naiabot

Sa sariling lunod ang aking kamay. 

Ako’y napaahon—hindi sa pagliligtas.

 

Sa aking harapán, ang sabay-sabay 

Na pagsisiupuan ng tao, animo’y 

Along hahalik sa banal na pampang. 

James M. Fajarito

Contributor Biography

James M. Fajarito grew up in Gloria town of Mindoro Island, Philippines. An associate professor, he serves under the Communication and Languages Department of Holy Angel University (Angeles City, Pampanga). He earned his PhD in Literature from the Philippine Normal University. A bilingual writer, he has had his poems, essays and stories featured in national publications in the Philippines and abroad. He resides in Angeles City with his wife and child.

San Sebastian Church, Manila

Hauling tons of steel across

oceans in the name of faith

sounds biblical and messianic.

After all, the country that shook

heaven and earth to collect

imported metals was an ex-Gentile.

 

An insurance against tremors,

the pieces of steel were piled 

up carefully in intricate designs.

Soon the church rose up

from an Oriental backwater

to thrust up its spires to heaven.

 

A small church even 

by ancient standards, it is dwarfed

today by mighty skyscrapers.

Cornered by modern buildings,

commerce, and pollution, 

it is subdued but corroding.

Yet, its compact architecture

hides its tenacity: designed 

in the Orient, prefabricated

in Europe, the heavy metals

had to navigate treacherous

waters to reach the archipelago.

 

All-steel, this building is a textbook

lesson on decisiveness and focus: 

dodge hardships, real and imagined;

stay on course despite challenges,

stop only once you’ve reached the shore.

For even God is charmed by persistence.